Fishing season is here (does it really ever go away?), and that means topwater Largemouth, tailing Red Drum, and enough adrenaline-pumping smallmouth fishing to reanimate the dead.
To achieve success in any one of these activities, all one needs is the proper rod, reel, and tackle.
Access to the waters where many of our game fish are located can easily be found, and yet they can leave the more devoted fisherman feeling a tad hollow.
Having been one of those fishermen confined to the edges, shores, and docks in the not too distant past, I found myself longing for a means to get on the water, to get to places beyond the reach of a well-placed cast.
At the time my options were relatively limited. Yes, I could have gone with a used Jon boat or shallow V, but I didn’t have a vehicle that could tow very much, nor did I have a trailer.
My options looked bleak, but after a few googles I happened upon kayak fishing, and my world became a bit brighter.
The options seemed endless and the opportunities for customization to different styles of fishing where likewise. My first concern was my weight and overall stature.
Am I too Big for a Fishing Kayak?
Let’s be honest, I am a well-fed individual with enough extra padding built in to make any lady a nice body pillow.
Fortunately for me and all the other finely built folks, fishing kayaks come in all sizes, and weight capacities, so you can be assured that both you and all of you tackle, safety gear, and cold snacks will be kept floating and comfortable.
Will I Get Wet Kayak Fishing?
Most of the fishing kayaks on the market today are of the sit on top variety, meaning there is a nice comfy chair set on a rail system that keeps you about 6 inches above the kayak deck, about 8 or so inches off the waterline.
This type of set up allows the kayak to be built very wide, allowing the fisherman to stand comfortably and do the same sight fishing you can do from a boat.
Using myself again as an example, I am not the most graceful human on earth, and I have absolutely no problems at all with standing, casting, and landing fish.
I have tested nearly all fishing kayaks in existence with very few exceptions, and I can say that just about all of them are pretty easy to stand out of.
Kayak vs. Fishing Boat
The fishing kayak really begins to stand out as a wonderful vessel when you start comparing to a regular bass boat, or shallow v, or Jon boat.
First off, the only two concessions that are made when considering a kayak are space, yes you can’t have a few people or the kitchen sink on it, and the fact that it is hard to fish a very large lake due to the fact that the engine fitted to a kayak is usually a trolling motor, or the fisherman himself.
Other than those, you won’t find another vessel that will fish as deep into a lily pad field, in tight, skinny backwater estuaries, or skim over a three-inch-deep sandbar into a deep hole in a bay.
Swift and silent is the MO of a kayak fisherman.
Watching a boat full of friends trying to launch a topwater frog into the middle of a lily pad field, while I slowly cruise down the line from them and sail over the top of the pads without fear of a snag, and get the fish out of their firing range gives me a feeling of deep accomplishment.
Transporting a Fishing Kayak
Transportation is also completely up to the fisherman. Personally, I have a set of roof bars on my SUV, and I just throw my kayak up there, use cam straps, and I’m off.
There are of course trailering options out there if you so desire, but using a roof rack system is just as easy if not easier. The kayak fishing community has been inundated with available accessories now to allow the fisherman to make their kayak truly their own.
They really have become mini bass boats. Most kayaks now have specially made pods that allow the easy installation of a fish finder transducer, battery, and head unit.
Rod and Tackle Storage
Rod storage and tackle crate systems have now been created with modular capabilities for even further customization. This ability to personalize your fishing kayak makes ownership that much more rewarding, but it doesn’t bear the high price tag that boat customizing comes with.
It’s now time to address the elephant in the room, well “baby” elephant. That would be the cost of all this fun and extreme mobility.
Fishing Kayak Cost
Fishing kayaks range in price greatly from the mid $500 range all the way up to $5000, with the lion share of the market being in the $1200 to $1700 range.
I purchased my kayak for a smack in the middle $1600, and it does everything a fisherman could ask for and then some. Yes, you can find a used boat for that cost, but I highly doubt that’s going to be the sort of boat that would lend itself to any type of longevity or reliability.
Also, with a boat, you would have to worry about maintenance on the motor if you got one, and trailer registration, and also finding a boat ramp for it. If you have a kayak, it is really a case of, no boat ramp, no problem”.
You can literally portage, and find any area to launch a kayak from, which allows the kayak fisherman to explore waters that usually don’t see boat traffic.
Cost of Accessories
As far as the cost of accessories, it really is the owner’s choice. You can buy a milk crate for under $5 and some PVC tubing, throw your tackle boxes in it and you now have a kayak crate complete with rod holders.
There are companies that specialize in accessories made just for kayak fishing, and they can be a touch pricey, but when you compare them to anything you would get for a boat, they are a bargain.
All you have to do is a little research, and you can find a DIY solution to any accessory you would need for your kayak.
This goes without saying, but the very first thing you would need to buy after purchasing a kayak is your PFD, or life jacket. I know I just got done talking about how inexpensive the realm of kayak fishing can be, but this is one area where you should really spare no expense.
Trust me, get a good life vest, they make ones just for fishing that are really comfortable and stay out of your way. I’m all for doing things on the cheap, but you shouldn’t cheap out on something that can save your life.
In the years since I have purchased my kayak, the kayak fishing community has grown exponentially. I never thought before of fishing competitively, nor getting involved with a fishing league.
Kayak Fishing Community
Fishing was my hobby and I intended on keeping it that way. This brings me to perhaps the best reason to have a fishing kayak, and that is the community itself, the people you meet, and the attitude of those you meet.
My first trip out on my kayak was to a local lake here in SE Pennsylvania, and I met 3 people who were also there with their kayaks. They told me about the Kayak Bass League and how much fun it was, and what they felt of it.
Next thing I knew, I was a sponsored bass fisherman. Every time I go fishing whether it’s merely in passing, at the dock, or on the water, I find myself making a new friend, and continuing to learn more about the sport.
Whether it’s a new product they just bought, a place they fished, or a tactic they were using, it seems like this community broke the mold of the old school fisherman who holds secret spots, never tells anyone what they are using, or makes casts at any boat getting within 50 feet of their fishing spot.
Those secret spots are not fished out, the secrets are still held, but more people get to enjoy them because they respect them.
To drive this point home a little more I actually deleted my social networking accounts across the board a few years back, but ever since I discovered kayak fishing, I came back to all my social networking just so I could keep in touch with everyone I have met over the years.
A fishing kayak isn’t just a less expensive tool to get onto the water and off the shore. It is an environmentally friendly way to enjoy the sport we love already.
Whether we like it or not, it’s a great way to exercise without even knowing it. It gets under your skin in a way that fishing hasn’t before. It’s a way to explore waters a boat can’t, and a shore fisherman can’t access.
It’s a community, a brotherhood or sisterhood of sorts. It is a way any fisherman, regardless of budget or limitation of money, can now enjoy fishing on the water just like you can from an expensive bass or bay boat.
Kayak fishing has allowed more fishermen to get on the water and enjoy themselves while making our waters just a bit more peaceful.